Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thatchers' Fine Timeless Fabric

                               Thatchers' Pink Box

Here's a little basic information regarding vintage Lilly Pulitzer fabric patterns. If this is a review for you, please just read along patiently while appreciating the fact that I've kept this short, as I could go on and on about it.

Suzie Zuzek dePoo, Martha dePoo and Leigh Martin Hooten are three artists who designed patterns for Key West Hand Print Fabrics(KWHPF)through out the 1960s, 70s and into the 1980s, during which time, KWHPF produced fabric for Lilly Pulitzer. Key West Hand Print Fabrics was founded in 1961 by Jimmy Russell and Peter Pell. Mr. Pell did coloration for KWHPF.

They, as fabric designers, had license to use their own artistic vision when they created prints for Lilly and they did! This is no more true of anyone than Suzie Zuzek dePoo who created the vast majority of Lilly patterns throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s while she maintained her position as head designer for KWHPF for nearly twenty five years. Martha dePoo and Leigh Martin were also very influential and created a multitude of beautiful patterns that were used by Lilly.

I've collected (DH would say "purchased", I prefer "collected") hundreds of vintage fabric patterns by the above mentioned artists from the period when they created prints for Lilly. I love them, I cherish them. If the house was burning down (God forbid), I'd likely run right by the wedding photos and grab my vintage Lilly fabric...I'm just being honest here.

Below are examples of patterns done by the three mentioned artists during the 1970s. The three patterns on the left were done by Suzie Zuzek dePoo, the pattern on the top right was done by Leigh Martin Hooten and the lower right pattern was done by Martha dePoo.Vintage Lilly Pulitzer Fabric designed by: Suzie Zuzek dePoo,
Martha dePoo and Leigh Martin Hooten

I've always been under the impression that the only additional patterns that I might come across would be through online auction sites or through the occasional person who finds me, through my shop, to tell me that their Floridian Grandmother has "all this really bright old fabric" and that they'd like to sell it (I love those people by the way).

I never imagined that someone could somehow manage to get three original Lilly artists to collaborate and design fabric today. But, I'm so happy to say that that is exactly what a woman, by the name of Becky Smith, did. She wanted to create fabric that had the same style as our beloved vintage Lilly prints. So, rather than looking for someone who could mimic those patterns, she went straight to the source and met with Suzie Zuzek dePoo, Leigh Martin Hooten and Martha dePoo, who agreed to design patterns for her. To put it casually (because after all, this is a blog), this is a really big deal folks!

Becky contacted me a few months back and informed me of her fabric and more specifically of, her chair, "The Thatcher". She received my name from Martha dePoo, with whom I'd been in contact because I had a few questions regarding vintage Lilly fabric. I actually had a few hundred questions but, I managed to keep it to a minimum. Ms. dePoo was nice enough to take time to answer my questions and realized that I might (ha! might) have an interest in Thatchers' new fabrics. I'm so grateful that she made the connection.

So, after a few conversations with Becky and taking time to look at Thatchers' web-site, I requested her company's "Pink Box" which is filled with fabric swatches. Once I received it, I was able to actually feel the fabric and get a first hand look at the prints. The fabric has such a nice soft texture and the patterns are gorgeous. There are four patterns in varying colors. I have to admit that my favorite pattern is "Les Trois Princesses De Le Mer" (translation for those of us not fluent in French: "The Three Princesses of the Sea") which is covered with mermaids (I happen to like the pink and green version the best, although the green and pink is nice too). The pattern shows mermaids who are engaged in a variety of activities including, sitting on a shell while looking into a mirror, talking on a shell-phone and, of course, taking time out to cuddle a pet sea horse. It's just too fun.

The fabric, in textile terms, is a cotton glazed chintz. It's upholstery quality so, you may have drapes made, through your designer, for your entire house. If you're not in need of window treatments, you might consider using the fabric to have pillows made or benches covered or seat cushions or upholstered headboards get the point. It's produced in a fabric Mill that's located in Southern France. Obviously, for Becky, who lives in St. Louis, this wasn't a choice based on convenience. She spent a great deal of time searching for a manufacturer who could make the highest quality fabric. She ended up going with the French Mill that actually produced fabric for her very own great-great grandmother years earlier. So they came with a pretty high recommendation. This also allows her to travel to and from France on a regular basis...which, I'm guessing didn't hurt.

Keep in mind though, that it wasn't just the desire to create amazing fabric that drove Becky. She initially set out to make a great chair. But, this was not going to be just any chair. It is a "bespoke" chair, meaning that they are custom made and decidedly not mass produced. The chair that she created is, of course, upholstered in her "timeless" fabric. It is a chair made with the belief that it will become a cherished family heirloom. This chair is so special, it's been given a name, it's appropriately known as, "The Thatcher". It can be seen in the photo below. No, this photo wasn't taken in my living room, it came from Thatchers'.

                                             The "Thatcher"

I want one of these chairs for every room in my house. I'm not sure how to incorporate it into my somewhat rustic style kitchen with its copper farm-house sink but, just give me some time and I'll figure out a way.

If you love this fabric as much as I do, please take the time to visit Thatchers' web-site and be sure to read more about the fabric artists during your visit.  See link below.


  1. Oh wow, I must check this out! thanks for sharing! :-) XOXO

  2. Love Becky! She's decorating my office! xoxo


  3. love it! Where can you order the fabric as a retail customer? Also cannot believe that Key West Handprints went out of business last year! I used to go there everytime I was in Key West. They had some nice fabrics and clothing with a vintage Lilly feel ;-)

  4. This is just Wonderful..I love your knowledge of this amazing textile. For those of US who have a Love and Passion for this Artistry this is just another way for us to have a little piece of an Heirloom. Thank you Thatchers for giving us a wonderful Textile that will be an Heirloom for years to come.

  5. I just got my pink box from my decorator. The fabrics are so beautiful. I am going to recover a chair and have curtians made for my daughter's bedroom. Can't wait until they are done!

  6. Kristina, Thank you again for such a lovely article, not only about the story of Thatchers' Fine Timeless Fabric, but more importantly, recognizing the history of the vision behind the iconic designs by the wonderful artist Suzie Zuzek dePoo, as well as her daughter Martha dePoo, and Leigh Martin Hooten! It is our vision that Thatchers' classic fabrics will be synonymous with impeccable artisanship and will be sought after for many generations to come!
    Vous êtes le meilleur! Merci!

  7. I love history and Lilly and of course I'm a sucker for anything and I mean anything French!!! So, thank you so much for this blog post!

  8. Wow, Kristina! It's exciting to read your review. I was only recently introduced to Thatcher's through my cousin, Becky's step-daughter. It's so great to meet you through blogland!

  9. love the daughter would love these at college. they would so be a hit. I wish I was this crafty! I do try. ahaha

  10. Great post!
    I love this new company and fabric.

  11. Hi - Thank you for the info! I just uncovered 4 yards of Zuzek - The Fighters. Have you ever seen it before? Glad to see this is all so appreciated!

  12. This blog looks a little old but I was given several yards of Zuzek - Lilly fabric and I was wondering if I can wash it before I sew? It is light weight, I am going to make a little girls dress out of it.. any help?

  13. I am sad to tell everyone that Suzie Zuzek, Passed away on July 13, 2011. In her home in Key West, FL. I worked with Suzie and her daughter Martha at Key West Hand Print Frabics in 1974 to 1976. She was very talented artist. My She Rest In Peace

  14. Thank you so much M Parsons for the comment. It's sincerely appreciated. I received an email from one of Suzie's family members shortly after her passing. I had the opportunity to spend the day with her last Jan. She was an amazing woman and will be dearly missed.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.